HALF A dozen cases of upskirting have been reported to Thames Valley Police in the six months since it was made a specific offence, an investigation has found.

The first figures on the impact of The Voyeurism (offences) Act, obtained by a Freedom of Information request by PA news agency, show that around one victim a month has contacted the police since its introduction last April.

In Thames Valley, which covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, police received six reports of upskirting in the first 182 days after the Act officially came into force.

The Act made it a criminal offence to take pictures of somebody under their clothing without their permission and is now punishable by up to two years in prison.

Police did not provide any information about the victims, or whether the cases resulted in any criminal proceedings.

Read more: latest court results from Oxfordshire

Across England, 153 allegations were made over the same period – although two of the country's largest police forces, London's Metropolitan Police and Bedfordshire Police, did not respond to the request, meaning the total could be much higher.

The vast majority of incidents involved female victims, taking place in schools, shopping centres and other public spaces.

Campaigners previously complained that the lack of a specific upskirting law meant police were unsure how to deal with allegations, and therefore many crimes went unreported.

Under the new law, a conviction at the magistrates' court would carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and could include a fine.

A more serious offence, tried in the crown court, can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.

The Voyeurism Act also allows upskirting to be treated as a sexual offence and ensures that the most serious offenders are placed on the sex offenders' register.

Separate data from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) showed that 10 men were convicted of 16 offences in 2019, and were punished at courts.